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Purcell strikes to send Hornchurch top

PUBLISHED: 22:09 19 November 2013 | UPDATED: 22:09 19 November 2013

George Purcell scored the only goal of the game as Hornchurch beat Bognor Regis 1-0 at Bridge Avenue. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

George Purcell scored the only goal of the game as Hornchurch beat Bognor Regis 1-0 at Bridge Avenue. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

Ryman Premier: AFC Hornchurch 1 Bognor Regis Town 0

A lone strike from George Purcell was the difference for Hornchurch against Bognor Regis Town at Bridge Avenue and it was enough to send them to the top of the Ryman Premier.

This sensationally committed performance from the Urchins neutralised Rocks passing play and the host were well worth the win.

Chances were few and far between during an evenly contested first half though, with Urchins matching Rocks all over the pitch.

Phil Starkey’s marauding runs down the right were a frequent feature of the game and he won several corners during the first half, with one of those bringing about a comical moment for the officials.

Michael Spencer’s ball in was cleared but a Bognor player had suffered a clash of heads in the process and despite the referee kneeling down next to him, play continued for a good 10 seconds before it was finally halted.

It was a bizarre situation and more unusual occurrences arose midway through the first period as a 23rd member was on the pitch as a fox crept onto the playing surface but failed to live up to his name and didn’t go inside the box.

Purcell nearly was the fox in the box when he latched onto Starkey’s header but unfortunately, with just Bognor keeper Mark Zawadski to beat, he was thwarted and it remained goalless at the break.

Hornchurch started the second half brightly with the imposing Frankie Curley having a well-struck effort saved.

Bognor’s Louis John was then penalised for handball and from the resulting free-kick 25-yards-out, Purcell’s fierce drive was just tipped over the bar.

The Urchins continued probing and their endeavour was rewarded 20 minutes from time when Purcell lashed home his 15th of the season.

Curley dinked the ball towards the byline, Starkey did well to nearly pick out Bremner and the ball then fell perfectly for Purcell to volley into the net.

Two minutes later and their lead was nearly doubled as the goalscorer released Carl Rook but his shot was comfortably saved.

Bognor were pushing for the equaliser now but it was Hornchurch who should have got a second as Purcell volleyed over after great work by Bremner.

Then a minute from time, lively Rocks substitute Ben Johnson fired across the box but the excellent Alex Bentley cleared.

Hornchurch were forced to survive four minutes added time but with Dave Rainford and Curley patrolling the pitch they held strong and clinched a thoroughly deserved three points.

Hornchurch: Echepare, Starkey, Bentley, Styles, Hayles, Curley, Rook (Bourne 78), Rainford, Bremner, Purcell (Eyong 89), Spencer.

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